I opened this page yesterday. But I was too overwhelmed to write. Today may be a better day.
Chander was special.
When he first walked into my house in July, he was white as ice, with cold hands and feet. His eyes, a pool of black gazed uncomfortably at the surroundings. He spoke only when spoken to, and saying only what was absolutely necessary. His father too, sat in a corner with a grim face. I went to work and continued slowly for over an hour, watching his expressions change from pain, discomfort to relief.
The next time was better. An element of trust had been established. Apart from the first two times, he came in alone, without his parents and spoke freely. Gone were the inhibitions from times past. I realised he had the most beautiful smile..with dimples that reached upto his ears. For a young boy of 18, with barely a few ounces of blood in him, he was spirited. Despite the battery of intrusions into his body, he found the strength to keep him going. His spirits never left his side and he spoke zealously of his visions – of walking and running for hours, of getting behind a wheel and driving into the setting sun. We made elaborate plans for movies and feasts when we recovered. He dreamt of eating greasy chowmein and golden bread pakoras. He whined at the subject of studies, almost always feigning fatigue the moment it was mentioned. Say’ football’ or ‘car races’, his face would be radiant with enthusiasm.
We met almost everyday. His jubilant smiles and witty remarks always got me laughing. Through all the pain and all the discomfort, he only thought of walking..walking..Then once, he told me of his phobia of blood. He could pass out at the very sight of it and here he was, having blood transfused into him every fortnight. He rarely spoke of the unpleasant and when he did, it was always with a tinge of humour. He seemed better, he felt better but the results did not budge.He stopped coming….
In between, a common friend told me he was better. His blood count was up to 9.6.
Yesterday, he was set free. He is no more. I had called to speak with him in the morning and got Dayal on the line. Chander was sleeping, under heavy medication. Doctors said it was the first stage of blood cancer. They were hopeful. Dayal was hopeful. That was 11am.
5pm- it was all over. Now Chander must be walking…tirelessly, effortlessly and smiling. Finally, he will have his car and his way. To me, he was a miracle and he will always stay…
Life is like that, gone in the second it takes to blow out the candle. I looked about me in the park today morning, taking in the sights and sounds, almost anew. It’s all I have, this moment. The dull sky, longing for the sun; the cold air on my face; the smell of flowers wafting in the air. The grass was a spectacular green and birds chirped, busy with their morning meals. People, some smiling, some tired and others silent, made their way. I touched the damp ground and felt the earth in my hands. I smiled. He smiled too. Goodbye Chander, may you soar like the eagle in your new found freedom..Forever.